The King of Stories -- Passings Over (Part 1 of 2)

Introductory note from Jason Pratt: see here for the previous entry; and see here for the first entry of the series. (It explains what I'm doing, and how, and contains the Johannine prologue.)

This chapter is longer than usual, so I'm presenting it in two parts. The scripture references will be given at the end of part 2.

Passings Over (Part 1)

Now the birthday of Herod (Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee) had come (tells the Follower, with the Disciple--sometime in early spring, based on various implications); and for his birthday he made a feast inviting his captains and magnates and other foremost men of Galilee.

And at the feast, the daughter of (his wife) Herodias enters and dances in their midst, pleasing Herod and those who lay back with him (at the dinner table).

Now the king said to the maiden, "Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you!"

And he (even) swears an oath to her: "Whatever you may be asking of me, I will give you--up to half my kingdom!"

Now going out, she asked her mother, "What should I request?"

And Herodias said: "The head of John the Baptist!"

Herod had imprisoned John the Baptist (not long after Passover Festival, almost a year ago), because of Herodias, wife of Philip the brother of Herod (and tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis provinces), whom Herod had married.

For John had said to Herod: "It is not allowed for you to marry the wife of your brother!" And so Herod had added to all his other evil deeds this one as well: he locked up John the Baptist in jail.

(At first) he (had) wanted to kill him, yet feared the crowds who considered John a prophet. And Herodias specially pressed him in, and wanted to kill him; but couldn't for Herod became aware that John was a fair and holy man, and often listened to him--with perplexity and fear, yet also with relish.

And so, on the coming of this strategic day, Herodias' daughter, being egged on by her mother, enters straight with diligence to the king and strongly declares: "Give me, on a platter, the head of John the Baptist!!"

And the king is stricken with sorrow, yet because of the oaths and those reclining with him (at the dinner table), does not want to rebuke her.

So the king dispatches a bodyguard straight to the jail (possibly though not certainly from Tiberius on the lake of Galilee past Jericho to the Dead Sea prison, a week or so in travel time coming and going), ordering him to bring his head.

And going away, he beheads him in jail, and carries the head on a platter; and gives it to the girl; who gives it to her mother.

And hearing of this, his disciples (some of whom now are apostles of Jesus) came and took away his corpse; and placed it in a tomb.

And then, they go tell Jesus.


Now the apostles gathered together with Jesus, in his home town (Capernaum) reporting to Him all that they had done and taught (including the Baptist's burial).

And when Jesus heard, He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest a little while." For there were many coming and going, and they had not yet even had time to eat (adds the Follower parenthetically).

And they withdrew from there in the boat, to (find) a lonely place.


But the multitudes were aware of this (adds the Scholar, having joined the story again along with the Follower and the Disciple); for many saw them departing and figured out where they were going. And when the crowds from the (various) cities realized this, they ran on foot (around the northern shore of the lake); for they were seeking the works of power which He was performing on those who were sick (adds the Evangelist--bringing a four-part harmony to this story!)

And so when He went out on shore, near the city of (Julius-)Bethsaida--

--He saw the great multitude, waiting for Him.

And He felt compassion; for they were like sheep, without a shepherd.


Now He goes up on a mountain and sits there with His disciples, and teaches the multitude many things, speaking to them about God's kingdom and curing those who need healing.

And the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near (adds the Evangelist).

[Footnote: this explains the vast number of people in this incident--out on the lake-road traveling for the Passover to their family's homes (if they couldn't go to Jerusalem), especially from the eastern side of the lake. It also explains why they have no food to eat; most of them were expecting to be somewhere that had food prepared by nightfall.]

Now as evening approached, His disciples came up to Him saying, "There are no houses here, and it is already quite late (in the day); send the crowds away so that they may go into the nearby villages and fields for food and lodging."

Yet Jesus, lifting His eyes to look on the crowds, answered: "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat! How many loaves do you have? Go look!"

One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him: "One of the lads has five barley rolls and two fish--but what are these for so many people!?"

And He said to Philip (who lived in Bethsaida), "Where should we buy bread, that these may eat?"

Now He was saying this to test him (adds the Evangelist), for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.

Philip answered Him: "Two hundred daywages worth of bread is not enough for them!--not even for everyone to have a little!"

Jesus said to His disciples, "Have the people recline, in groups of about fifty each."

Now, there was much grass in this place. So they reclined, in companies of hundreds and fifties, about five thousand men in number, not counting women and children.

And He said, "Bring them (the loaves and fishes) here to Me."

And He took the loaves and fishes, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed them; and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples... and continued giving to them!

And He divided up the two fish among them all, as much as they wanted.

And the disciples gave to the multitudes--

--and they all ate; and were satisfied.

Now when they were full, He said to His disciples, "Gather up the leftover fragments that nothing may be lost."

And so they gathered them up, cramming twelve baskets with barley-loaf fragments, left over by those who had eaten.


When the people therefore saw this attesting work of power which He had performed (as a Passover holiday meal), they said: "This is truly the Prophet (promised by Moses) who is to come into the world!"

Jesus (meanwhile) was sending the multitudes on their way (the Disciple, Evangelist and Follower tell--the Scholar skips over this story); but He perceived that they were intending to come and take Him, to make Him king by force!

He immediately ordered the disciples to get in the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side (of the northern Jordan River mouth, effectively the 'other half' of the lake) to (nearby) Bethsaida until He sends away the crowds; but after bidding them farewell, He departed to the mountain alone to pray.


Now later that night, after it had long since become dark and Jesus hadn't yet come to them, His disciples went down to the lake; and after getting into the boat, they started across the lake to Capernaum. [Note: heading for the other Bethsaida.]

And the lake began to be stirred, because of a strong wind blowing. And they strained at the oars, but the wind was against them.

But during the night's fourth watch (3 to 6 am), Jesus looked up from where He was praying on the mountain, and saw they had already rowed about three or four miles.

[Note: Passovers take place during a full moon; and despite popular dramatic representations this isn't a dangerous storm.]

And so during that fourth watch of the night, they saw Him coming to them, walking on the sea.

He drew near to the boat; but intended to pass them by!

But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying: "It is a ghost!"--for they all saw Him, and cried out in fear.

Yet Jesus immediately spoke toward them, saying: "Courage! It is I! Fear not!"

Now Peter answered Him, saying, "Master, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water!"

And He said, "Come here!"

And Peter got down out of the boat, and walked on the water, going toward Jesus!

But, seeing the strong wind, he became afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying: "Master save me!"

And Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of him, saying to him, "O you who trust so little! Why did you doubt...?"

Now they were willing for Him to get in the boat (with Peter in tow); and when they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those in the boat with Him were astonished to the farthest excess, and prostrated before Him saying, "You are certainly God's Son!"

Yet (adds the Follower) they had not really understood what the incident of the loaves had meant, for their minds were dull.

Now in no time at all, they made landfall in the Gennesaret region to which they were rowing (having already covered almost all the distance already). And when they got out of the boat, the people recognized Him and ran straightway through the whole countryside, bringing people on cots who were sick, to where they were hearing He was.

[Next time: the results of the second Passover]


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